If you’re looking for a fun family activity beyond the French Quarter in New Orleans, consider visiting the Audubon Zoo. However, keep in mind that the zoo is located a fair distance from the Quarter and can be a bit tricky to reach, so make sure it’s an attraction you really want to see. One option is to take the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, but you’ll still need to walk about 20-25 minutes through Audubon Park to reach the zoo entrance.

The Audubon Nature Institute

The Audubon Zoo, along with Audubon Park, the Aquarium of the Americas, and the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, is part of the Audubon Nature Institute. This organization is named after the renowned artist and naturalist John James Audubon, who is best known for his illustrations in the book “The Birds of America.” Audubon spent time in Louisiana and even resided briefly on Oakley Plantation.

A Zoo with a Rich History

The Audubon Zoo has a fascinating history that dates back more than a century. It began as a single flight cage or aviary in Audubon Park in 1916 and has since undergone several name changes and expansions.

The Merz Memorial Zoo

In the 1930s, the zoo received funding from private donors, the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA), and a generous bequest from Valentine Merz, the founder of Dixie Brewing Company. This support led to the creation of the Merz Memorial Zoo, a significant milestone in the zoo’s development.

Expansion and Renovation

The zoo underwent further expansion and renovations in the 1970s, ultimately growing to its current size of 58 acres. Today, the Audubon Zoo features a diverse array of natural habitats, as well as several sculptural works, fountains, and water features.

Exotic and Entertaining Animals

While zoos may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the Audubon Zoo offers visitors the chance to see a variety of exotic and entertaining animals, including:

  1. Spider monkeys from Central America
  2. Gorillas
  3. Orangutans
  4. Giant Anteaters from Central and South America
  5. Jaguars
  6. Louisiana Black Bears
  7. Wildebeests and Zebras
  8. Rhinos
  9. Asian Elephants
  10. Giraffes

Colorful Birds and the Aviary

Along With the mammals, the Audubon Zoo is home to a variety of colorful birds, such as:

  • Pink Caribbean flamingos
  • Parrots, including a Scarlet Macaw
  • Birds native to Louisiana, like the pelican

Although the zoo grew from the initial flight cage created in Audubon Park, the current aviary is much smaller than its predecessor.

Getting There and Ticket Information

  • Location: The Audubon Zoo is located at 6500 Magazine St, adjacent to Audubon Park.
  • Transportation: You can reach the zoo by streetcar (St. Charles Avenue line: Audubon Park), bus (Line 11-Magazine: Audubon Zoo), or taxi.
  • Ticket Prices:
    • Zoo only:
      • Adult Admission: $19.95 + tax
      • Child Admission (age 2-12): $14.95 + tax
    • Zoo + Aquarium:
      • Adult Admission: $39.95 + tax
      • Child Admission (age 2-12): $29.95 + tax
    • Audubon Experience Package (Audubon Zoo + Aquarium of the Americas + IMAX Theatre + Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium):
      • Adult Admission: $44.95 + tax
      • Child Admission (age 2-12): $34.95 + tax

Travel Tip

If you’re taking the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, you can wait a few minutes at the stop and take the Audubon Zoo shuttle bus. However, keep in mind that seating is limited, and service may not be consistent.

More About the Audubon Zoo

  • The zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals, representing over 350 species.
  • The Audubon Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which means it meets or exceeds the highest standards of animal care and conservation.
  • The zoo participates in several Species Survival Plans (SSPs), which are cooperative breeding and conservation programs designed to ensure the survival of threatened and endangered species.
  • Along With the animal exhibits, the zoo features various themed areas, such as the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit, the Jaguar Jungle, and the African Savanna.
  • The zoo hosts several special events throughout the year, including Zoo-To-Do, a fundraising gala, and Boo at the Zoo, a Halloween celebration for families.

Tips for Visiting the Audubon Zoo

  1. Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
  2. Bring sunscreen, hats, and water, especially during the hot summer months.
  3. Check the zoo’s website or app for a schedule of animal feedings and presentations to make the most of your visit.
  4. Consider purchasing a combo ticket or the Audubon Experience Package if you plan to visit other Audubon Nature Institute attractions.
  5. If you’re visiting with young children, take advantage of the zoo’s stroller rentals and kid-friendly amenities, such as the Cool Zoo splash park (open seasonally).

An Unforgettable Family Experience

A visit to the Audubon Zoo offers a unique and memorable experience for families exploring New Orleans. By showcasing a diverse array of animals from around the world and providing educational opportunities, the zoo aims to inspire a love for nature and a commitment to conservation in visitors of all ages.

As you wander through the zoo’s carefully crafted habitats, from the lush Louisiana Swamp to the expansive African Savanna, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the incredible diversity of life on our planet. Along the way, you’ll encounter fascinating creatures, from the playful spider monkeys to the majestic Asian elephants, each with their own captivating stories and characteristics.

Supporting Conservation Efforts

By visiting the Audubon Zoo, you’re not only providing your family with an unforgettable experience but also supporting the zoo’s ongoing conservation efforts. Through its participation in Species Survival Plans and its commitment to animal welfare and education, the zoo plays a crucial role in protecting threatened and endangered species for generations to come.

So, while it may require a bit of extra effort to reach the Audubon Zoo from the French Quarter, the rewards of this family-friendly adventure are well worth it. Whether you’re marveling at the colorful plumage of the Caribbean flamingos, observing the powerful grace of the jaguars, or learning about the importance of preserving our natural world, a day at the Audubon Zoo is sure to leave a lasting impression on both you and your children.

An Oasis in the Heart of New Orleans

Beyond its role as a premier wildlife attraction, the Audubon Zoo also serves as a lush, 58-acre oasis in the heart of New Orleans. As you explore the zoo’s winding paths and beautifully landscaped gardens, you’ll discover a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Take a moment to relax in the shade of a majestic oak tree, or enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. The zoo’s serene environment provides a welcome respite for families looking to unwind and recharge during their New Orleans adventure.

To sum it up, a visit to the Audubon Zoo is an essential part of any family-friendly itinerary in New Orleans. With its rich history, diverse animal collection, and commitment to conservation and education, the zoo offers a truly unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. So, make the journey from the French Quarter, and learn about the wonders of the natural world at this beloved New Orleans institution.

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